Waxing Brazil

9 07 2014

87974_dd88989776b9a29af4f36e15f8582658_b7074e5727d16f90dc8ef2d33f893536This post originally began as a Facebook status. But as I thought about it there was more to say. It’s been close to 24 hours since the Germany/Brazil semifinal “mis”match in the World Cup, and certainly one of the big sports stories of the year.

The result was not a surprise but the margin of victory was a shock. Brazil did not impress in any of their previous games, but no one expected a slaughter. They finished atop what was arguably the weakest group in the tournament, and if it wasn’t for a phantom penalty call late in the first match versus Croatia they would have been on the couch a lot earlier. 

Brazil was the odds on favorite to win the World Cup, with more talent than any other team in the field. Their players are the best in the world, commanding the highest salaries at the top clubs. One would think that they could just show up and win.

That’s exactly what they didn’t do. The reason soccer is called the “beautiful game” is because of how the Brazilians always played it. A World Cup being contested in their own country… should be an easy win. (Ironically, the Croatia players and coaches asserted the same thoughts after their controversial loss… “Just give them the trophy now!”)

So what happened? Not to take anything away from a fantastic German side, it’s clear that Brazil was not ready to play against the best competition. As the host country, they do not have to go through qualifying like everyone else. With that edge lost, complacency took over with a predictable result. What we saw is a precise interpretation of an old axiom, that talent isn’t enough… you have to work hard to succeed.

I’m very interested to see how Brazil plays in the third place match. My thought… if they play neighborhood rival Argentina it will be a hotly contested match. If the play Holland, the Brazilians will roll over and die. Again…

After the match I saw a lot of comments about how the U.S. only lost to Germany by a 1-0 score, so accordingly we are better than Brazil. Sports doesn’t work that way. It’s a ridiculous notion, but can you imagine what a team with Brazil’s talent and America’s heart and determination would look like? Wow…

AR-140709193One last thought… ESPN’s coverage of the World Cup has been tremendous so far, with great pre and post game analysis and first-rate commentary during the match. Ian Darke and Steve McManama were terrific in, what had to be, a tough match to call. So I was disappointed that they spent so much time monitoring the streets of Rio de Janeiro waiting for a riot to start. I know that would be a ratings bonanza, but get a grip! I guess the Brazilians were too shocked to muster up the energy to flip over a car or two.

I’d like to give the fans credit. They stayed and cheered their team until the end, and showed appreciation for the German side that had just humiliated them. Well done… Brazilians!

So hoping the other semifinal is a better game.

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My World Cup

9 06 2014

World-Cup-20143

This is a huge week for me, my friends. The 2014 World Cup kicks off in just three days and I couldn’t be more excited!

Besides my family and friends, nothing is more satisfying and enjoying to me than the beautiful game. Soccer is my religion. I’ve been combing through my employee handbook to see if the USA matches qualify as religious holidays, but I don’t think I’m that good a salesman. But that’s what vacation days are for…

I’ve waxed many times about my love of the sport, so this isn’t new territory. After two years of qualifying and months of anticipation and hype, the opening games are at hand. My bracket pools are filled out. My DVR is prepared to work overtime starting Thursday. And my red, white and blue scarves, t-shirts and hats are out. Waiting…

I can’t wait to see some of the best players in the world, on the best teams in the world battling for the ultimate dream (and possibly the ugliest trophy ever created). My hope is that the matches are all competitive, free of controversy and full of sportsmanship… PLAY FAIR! I’m looking forward to the personality, insights and technology that ESPN will bring to the coverage. Most of all, I sincerely hope that the entire tournament is safe for all of the players, fans and the Brazilian people. Now… some predictions, if you please.

For the USA…

  1. Jermaine Jones will do something that will cost the team. A red card, or a bad foul resulting in a dangerous free kick.
  2. The USA will score in each match.
  3. Julian Green will get in the Ghana match, but not see the field for the rest of the tournament.
  4. Tim Howard will stop a penalty.
  5. Klinsmann will park the bus against Germany, but try to run with Portugal.
  6. The United States WILL get out of the group, then upset Belgium in the first knockout round. Argentina will knock us out, but that will be deemed a successful showing for Team Klinsmann.

The rest of the world…

  1. Lionel Messi will win the Golden Boot.
  2. Some not so big names that will have a big impact: André Schürrle (Germany) and Hulk (Brazil)… “Puny humans!”
  3. England will not win a game.
  4. Bosnia-Herzegovina will beat France in the first knockout round.
  5. Brazil will be a big disappointment, losing in the semifinals to Germany.
  6. Germany and Spain in the final.
  7. Spain will win the World Cup.

So, again I exercise my blog post powers and put it out there! Call me out on any of these somewhat bold predictions… what do you think?

Scarf